Born Suzanne Brigit Bird on October 16, 1980, this future basketball star showed an aptitude for sports almost before she could walk. She would play against boys on soccer teams and loved to compete, whether it was with Tiddlywinks or on a playing field. Growing up in Syosset, New York, Bird dominated the basketball floor at Christ the King High School — she led them to an undefeated record her senior year and was named New York City/State Player of the Year.
Scouts from several top universities tried to lure this star guard after she graduated from high school and, after much deliberation, Bird settled on the University of Connecticut. The school had a great women’s basketball track record and immediately, she saw she had made the right choice.
Bird started the first eight games for the Huskies as a freshman and all was going well, until she tore her ACL in December. The injury forced her to remain on the sidelines for the rest of the year, but was looked at as a positive learning experience, as Bird was raring to go one year later.
Her pent up energy coupled with a solid core of returning players made UConn a threat in the ’99-’00 season. Bird delivered on forecasts by several sports magazines and quarterbacked her team to a national championship. To cap it all off, she was named the Associated Press Point Guard of the Year.
In Bird’s junior year, her team was unable to repeat as a national champ, but she upped her stock by hitting an amazing buzzer-beater to win the Big East tournament. She showed a more mature side in the 2000-2001 season, and her leadership skills were more developed. Hungry to redeem herself in her final year at Connecticut, Bird used these new talents and began the 2001-2002 season in style, reaching 1,000 points halfway through the campaign.
The Huskies began making news towards the end of their season, as they still had a “0” in the losses column. No team could beat them and they did in fact finish unbeaten, at 39-0. Thanks in large part to Bird, they steamrolled the competition in the NCAA tournament and again took home the national championship. She finished the season and was names the Associated Press and Naismith Player of the Year, and was a two-time All-American as well.
She became the talk of the media at the ESPYs in 2002, when she appeared at the award show with Baskstreet Boy Nick Carter as her date. Though they were never involved and both admitted it was mostly a publicity stunt, Bird garnered a lot of attention, especially after winning the Best Female College Athlete of the Year award.
Thanks to her talents and all the attention now paid to her, Bird was the first pick in the 2002 WNBA draft by the Seattle Storm. The team was in need of a real point guard and Bird fit in perfectly, leading them to a winning season and showing incredible poise for a rookie. She was a starter in the All-Star game and brought the Storm to its first playoff appearance.
Before the next season, Bird again impressed all who watched by helping the U.S. Women’s team win the World Championships in China. As the 2003 season got underway, she was prepped to go even further with the Storm. Unfortunately, though her year got off to a great start, she was hobbled by injuries and did not perform up to par.
Still, it is a testament to her great looks and bubbly personality that Bird is as popular as ever — a competitor who no doubt will redeem herself in the next WNBA season.